fall slowly dropped away; until the time came when, all at
once, there was the difference. Every object in the room, in
its familiarity, proclaimed a difference, the shotgun there in
the corner, the books he had read, the dusty papers filled with
his writing. He had. written on those pages for some purpose;
the purpose was gone now, but there the writing still was,
yellowing out, going too, but outliving the purpose that had
guided the pen across the sheets. Over the sights of the shot-
gun, in the flicker of an instant, he had seen the last quail
rise in the whirr of wings against the lemon-coloured sky, and
his finger had pressed the trigger, and the bird had stumbled,
as it were, on the air and plunged downward like a stone.
There the shotgun was, as it had been; but the unnamable
Impulse that had made him lift it and press the trigger that
afternoon was gone, exhausted in its fulfilment. The acts
remained, irreversible in their consequences and not to be
undone, but the impulse, the desire, the purpose, had gone.
It was hard sometimes to guess what they had been.
He stopped moving about the office. To hell with it, he
thought. That didn't matter. The only thing that mattered
was to see MacDonald out, now. There was, at least, that.
That was the only thing that mattered, now, for it was the
only thing left to matter.
Five days earlier the board of the Association had voted to
sell. Mr. Sills and Mr. Munn had stood out against it. But
it had been no use. Some had been hopeless, some had needed
cash too desperately, some had been afraid. Looking about
the table, Mr. Munn had wondered how many had the threat
of an indictment hanging over their heads to force the vote.
That's what the evidence was being used for, to squeeze.
And after that it might be used for something else. More
than once Mr, Munn had wondered when they would come
for him: on the street in broad daylight, some night at the
Mr. Sills had stood by him, but it had been no use. After
the vote, Mr. Munn had gone down the stairs by himself,
ahead of the others. It was over. The other men hadn't